Staunton, June 1 – Most heads of Russia’s federal subjects followed Kremlin orders and dutifully condemned the Prigozhin mutiny (gazeta.ru/social/news/2023/06/24/20736830.shtml), but some of their statements were less than full-throated, an indication that they either did not want to get ahead of events or ahead of their own populations.
According to Leyla Latypova of The Moscow Times, “many people in the ethnic republics categorically opposed both Prigozhin and Putin [but] saw the rebellion as an opportunity to make a change at home, according to activists and analysts” (themoscowtimes.com/2023/06/30/wagner-mutiny-stirs-panic-uncertainty-and-hope-for-change-in-russias-ethnic-republics-a81694).
The Russian journalist gives examples from three republics, Buryatia, Sakha, and Chechnya. In Buryatia which has suffered among the highest “casualty counts in the war,” the republic head issued a statement directly to the Prigozhin forces that one analyst said was “the most favorable toward Wagner” (t.me/alexeytsydenov/2483).
In Sakha, the Free Yakutia Foundation reported, 70 percent of some 600 residents it surveyed said “they were disappointed that Prigozhin’s rebellion didn’t succeed but only because they expected it to fundamentally alter the course of the invasion of Ukraine” rather than because they favored Prigozhin over Putin.
And in Chechnya, human rights activist Abubakar Yangulbayev says, “people believe Prigozhin is worse than Putin because he is a Nazi, a fascist and a thug … But some saw in this an opportunity to make changes within Chechnya. Their reaction was ‘may those Putinists and Wagneristes kill each other and leave us alone.”